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OBI, AMAECHI… Two men like none other

Posted by By PAUL ONYIA and NETA NWOSU on 2008/02/02 | Views: 688 |

OBI, AMAECHI… Two men like none other

Award winning SUN Newspapers in their culture of promoting spirited enterprise and celebrating issues of our national development distinguishes some Nigerian men and women of outstanding clouts who have excelled in their various careers, and above all, contributed to our national development – these men and women are bestowed with their most prestigious award – The Sun Man of The Year.

Award winning SUN Newspapers in their culture of promoting spirited enterprise and celebrating issues of our national development distinguishes some Nigerian men and women of outstanding clouts who have excelled in their various careers, and above all, contributed to our national development – these men and women are bestowed with their most prestigious award – The Sun Man of The Year.

The Award was instituted in 2003 with Dr. Mike Adenuga being the first recipient. He was honoured for introducing through Globacom the Per Second Billing. The 2004 award went to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the immediate past chairman of EFCC for his achievements in the anti- corruption war.

Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria won the 2005 edition for reforming the banking sector through the consolidation policy. The 2006 edition went to Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili for the reforms she introduced in the education sector, and for the first time in the history of the Award, the 2007 edition has two distinguished gentlemen as winners – Their Excellencies, Governor Peter Onwubuasi Obi, Executive Governor of Anambra State and Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Executive Governor of Rivers State.

His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi was born on the 19th July 1961 at Onitsha, where his father, a former police officer, had already established a successful business.
He was somewhat precocious, because he was well ahead of his peers in so many respects. In 1980, he gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he read philosophy, graduating B.A (Hons) in that discipline in 1984. No doubt, the course may have contributed in shaping his broad and perspectives on issues. It may have also contributed in molding his character in a way that makes him to subject issues to critical analyses.

It would appear that the business blood in his family also runs in him, for as soon as he finished his education, he delved into that enterprise where he distinguished himself a few years after. Climbing the rungs of business with impressive speed, he became the Chairman of Next International Nigeria Limited. It is said in business circles today, tongue- in- cheek, that without Next International, supermarket business will crumble in Nigeria. This is so because Next International imports a good percentage of articles sold in supermarkets.

With the success of Next International, Mr. Peter Obi’s business empire blossomed like a watered rose. As he diversified in his business, he became the Chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc, the youngest Chairman of the 25 billion naira bank, which appointment he resigned when he became Governor. He was also the Chairman of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Limited, Guardian Express Bank Plc, Futureview Securities Limited, Paymaster Nigeria Limited, Chams Plc, Data Corp Limited and Card Centre Limited.

Recognizing the dynamic nature of the business world, Mr. Peter Obi tried, now and then, to upgrade his knowledge and expand his managerial ability. Thus, at various times, he took top Executive Program and Financial Management Courses at such world renowned management schools as Lagos Business School, Nigeria; London School of Economics; Columbia Business School, New York; Harvard Business School, Boston; Kellogg Graduate School of Management, USA and Institute for Management Development, Switzerland.

Mr. Peter Obi belongs to different professional associations and organizations, some of which are; Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigeria Chartered Institute of Bankers, Commonwealth Business Council, West African Business Committee, British Institute of Directors, British Nigeria Business Council and Nigerian South African Chamber of Commerce.

As a successful businessman, Obi’s venture into politics was not by accident. He sees the political terrain as a virgin land which he can conquer if he could face it with the same resilience, hard work that hinged on truth and sincerity with which he has confronted the business world.
Peter Obi stood for the governorship election as candidate for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party in 2003, his rival, Chris Ngige, was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

After nearly three years of litigation, Ngige’s victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal on 15 March 2006. Obi then took office on 17 March 2006. On 2 November 2006, he was impeached by the state house of assembly after seven months in office and replaced the next day by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy, making her the first ever female Governor in Nigeria’s history.
Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was re-instated as the governor on 9 February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling. He once again left office on May 29 2007 following general elections.

Obi returned to the courts once more, this time contending that the four- year tenure he had won in the 2003 elections only started to run when he took office in March 2006. On 14 June 2007 the Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld Obi’s contention and returned Obi to office. This brought to an abrupt end the tenure of Obi’s successor, Governor Andy Uba whose April 14, 2007 election the Supreme Court nullified on the grounds that Obi’s four – year tenure should have remained undisturbed till March 2010.
Though politics may be difficult terrain, the giant strides he has already taken within the short time he has been on the saddle, mark him out as a success in that area of life. He is among the few politicians that believe politics should not be devoid of morality.

As a Governor, he is doing very well. Since he came into office, he has been struggling successfully to re- define politics in his State by playing according to the rules. Thus, he not only shuns thuggery, but always preaches against it. Perhaps among the most touching statement from a Nigerian politician is Governor Obi’s appeal to fellow politicians to stop using other people’s children as thugs when they sent theirs to various schools abroad. He also embarked on integrated development of his State, by which he approaches development in a holistic manner, which is, developing all sectors simultaneously.
The secret of Governor Obi’s success lies in hard work and his unobtrusive spirituality. Coming from a devout Catholic family, with an elder sister who is a Reverend Sister and a younger brother who is a Reverend Father, he does not joke with his spiritual life. He believes that part of what keeps him going is trying, in spite of human frailties, to live out the ethics of Christ in whatever he does.

His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi was born on 27th May 1965 in Ubima Town, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State and had his primary education at St. Theresa’s Primary School, Ubima from 1970 to 1976 after which he proceeded to Government Secondary School, Okolobiri from 1977 to 1982. He then had his university education in the prestigious University of Port Harcourt where he read English Language as his major in 1987.

Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Married to Judith Amaechi with three kids, His Excellency has served in various capacities in the public sphere and in the governance of Rivers State of Nigeria and has contributed immensely to the growth and development of his region – the Niger Delta.

Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was two- time speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. In his tenure as Speaker, he was elected Speaker of all Speakers of the entire House of Assemblies in Nigeria. For eight years this man kept Rivers State House of Assembly going, people were happy and believed in him, there were no incidences of impeachment whether of the Governor or the Speaker.

This was a man who knew where he was going politically and painstakingly did his homework by putting his network on ground for his eventual emergence as Governor of Rivers State. So much was his goodwill among the people of Rivers State that when former president Olusegun Obasanjo openly embarrassed him by refusing to give him the party flag at the party convention, violence broke out and Rivers State had since not been the same. Some members of the Rivers State House of Assembly wept openly at the installation of Sir Celestine Omeiha, especially when Governor Omeiha came to constitute the House of Assembly leadership and people were called upon to speak about the Rivers State House of Assembly in the past eight years.

Today, in a landmark decision the Supreme Court voided the election of Sir Celestine Omeiha and decided that Hon. Rotimi Amaechi be sworn in immediately having won the primary election in PDP but was inexplicably substituted at the eleventh hour by the PDP with Sir Celestine Omeiha who did not participate in the primary elections. Amaechi had earlier gone to the election tribunal where he failed, he went to the Court of Appeal and failed, before the Supreme Court justified his tenacity and willingness to fight for his mandate.

This gentleman governor has won several awards which include the Award for Parliamentary Excellence (Rivers Foundation, USA, 2000), International Award for Political Leadership( Jaycees International, 2000), Best Speaker of State House of Assemblies ( Nigerian Union of Journalists, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Enugu Chapter, 1999) and today, he is honoured with The Sun Newspapers most prestigious award – The Sun Man of The Year Award, 2007.

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